Oregon’s new Labor Commissioner says her first order of business will be a review of a newly released investigation into sexual harassment at the state capitol.
Val Hoyle took the oath of office in Salem on Monday, days after outgoing Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian released a report that concluded that harassment make Oregon’s state capitol into a hostile work environment.
She says her first act in office will be to dig into the 52-page report. “I would like to sit down with the people that did the investigation to ask them what their process was, to ask them about the findings,” she said. “What I’m looking forward to doing is figuring out what should we do to make sure that people who come into the capitol or any workplace in Oregon feel safe coming in to work.”
What happens next is largely in the hands of Hoyle. “There are a whole lot of options that will be available to us,” including re-opening the investigation, she said. “But until I get to the job and actually talk to the people that did the report, it’s not fair for me to comment or pre-suppose what we’re going to do.”
Hoyle is a former Democratic state representative and says she can identify with the issues outlined in the report. “I came in in 2009, and it was a different time,” she said. “I was told who not to get into an elevator with, as if it was my responsibility to make sure that somebody didn’t harass me.”
Hoyle’s swearing-in marks a first for Oregon: Now, three of the five statewide executive elected officeholders are women. She joins Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
“Now, more than ever, Oregon’s leadership is reflective of its people,” said Brown during remarks made to an audience of lawmakers, lobbyists, friends and Hoyle’s family who gathered in the Oregon House of Representatives to see Hoyle sworn in. As Labor Commissioner, Hoyle will oversee the state’s enforcement of laws relating to workplaces, housing and public accommodation.